2014 Agricultural Symposium


Periods of economic prosperity or hardship often give rise to structural changes and industry realignments. Agriculture has experienced a multi-year boom as elevated crop prices have underpinned near-record income and surging investment the last several years. The extraordinary profitability has transformed the global crop sector and farm economy, from the expansion of agribusinesses to the consolidation of farming operations and strategies of agricultural finance institutions. Soaring crop prices and severe drought, however, have squeezed profit margins for livestock producers, leading to industry contraction in some regions.

Yet, history has shown that booms eventually fade and busts ultimately come to an end. Following a strong rebound in global crop production in 2013, sharply lower crop prices highlight the possibility of tighter profit margins in crop production, despite a brightening near-term livestock outlook.

The 2014 Agricultural Symposium explored how global agricultural economies, institutions, and industries might realign alongside sharp changes in agricultural commodity prices and lower farm incomes, following multiple years of exceptional farm sector profitability.

To request an invitation to next year's Agricultural Symposium, contact the Symposium Coordinator at AgSymposium@kc.frb.org.

2014 Agricultural Symposium Agenda

July 15, 2014  
12:30 - 1 p.m. Registration
1 - 1:15 p.m. Welcome
1:15 - 2 p.m. Keynote Address: International Perspectives on Farm Income Drivers
  The keynote speaker discussed the historical balance between market-based incentives and policy-based incentives and whether recent negotiations and national policies will alter this balance going forward.
  International Perspectives on Farm Income Drivers | Paper
  Speaker: Jean-Philippe Gervais, Chief Agricultural Economist, Farm Credit Canada
2 - 3:30 p.m. Session 1: The Agribusiness Response
  This session discussed how agribusinesses might respond to recent dramatic shifts in agricultural commodity prices and where future areas of growth are likely to be found. The speaker described global trends and industry initiatives that are likely to emerge in the business of farming, input supply, distribution, and marketing alongside an evolving agricultural sector. A panel of industry leaders then discussed their outlook for future growth in response to sharp changes in agricultural commodity prices.
  Volatility: The Agribusiness Response | Paper
  Speaker: Mary Shelman, Director, Agribusiness Program, Harvard Business School
  Industry Panel: Chuck Studer, Director of Industry Relations, Deere & Company | Presentation
  Carl Casale, President and Chief Executive Officer, CHS Inc. | Presentation
  Todd Becker, President, Chief Executive Officer and Director, Green Plains Inc. | Presentation
4 - 5:30 p.m. Session 2: A Livestock Sector Crossroads
  This session explored the global fundamentals driving the potential for a rebound in the profitability of livestock production. The speaker discussed how global supply and demand factors have shaped the industry and shifted livestock inventories among key production regions. A panel of industry experts then described structural challenges the livestock sector has faced in recent years and how this structure may affect future profitability.
  A Livestock Sector Crossroads? | Paper
  Speaker: Derrell Peel, Professor, Oklahoma State University
  Industry Panel: Joe Swedberg, Vice President of Legislative Affairs, Hormel Foods
  Dhamu Thamodaran, Executive Vice President and Chief Commodity Hedging Officer, Smithfield Foods | Presentation
5:30 - 6:30 p.m. Reception
6:30 - 8 p.m. Dinner and Speaker: Economic Conditions and Monetary Policy
  The speaker discussed current developments in the U.S. economy and Federal Reserve monetary policy
  Speaker: Esther George, President and Chief Executive Officer, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City
July 16, 2014  
7:30 - 8 a.m. Continental Breakfast
8- 9:30 a.m. Session 3: Risks to the Rural Landscape

This session examined whether a downturn in agricultural profitability might accelerate the decline of rural communities. The first speaker discussed the prospects for rural economic growth and agriculture's link to Main Street business activity. The second speaker described the outlook for the next generation of farm operators, implications of agriculture's demographic transition and farm consolidation on rural communities, and challenges rural communities must overcome to avoid further decline.

  Farmland Bubbles and Risks to the Rural Economy | Paper
  Speaker: Mark Partridge, Professor, Ohio State University
  Risks to the Rural Landscape | Paper
  Don Macke, Director of Entrepreneurial Communities, Center for Rural Entrepreneurship
10 - 11: 30 a.m. Session 4: The Horizon for Agricultural Finance
  This session explored how a downturn in the agricultural sector might affect agricultural financial activity. Both large and small institutions with financial interests in agricultural production have recognized agriculture as a recent bright spot in the global economy, and have been competing for high-quality agricultural loans and commodity market exposure. In this session, speakers shared their views about what a downturn might mean for commodity investment, agricultural finance, and lending practices in the future.
  Industry Panel: Max Wake, President, Jones National Bank and Trust Company
  Elizabeth Hund, Senior Vice President and Division Manager, U.S. Bank Food Industries | Presentation
  Doug Stark, President and Chief Executive Officer, Farm Credit Services of America | Presentation
  Brian Newcomer, Executive Vice President of Business Development, Rabo AgriFinance | Presentation
11: 30 a.m. - 1 p.m. Luncheon and Symposium Rapporteur
  A symposium rapporteur summarized the highlights of the symposium and discuss how global agricultural economies, institutions, and industries might realign alongside sharp changes in agricultural commodity prices and lower farm incomes, following multiple years of exceptional farm sector profitability.
  Speaker: Chad Hart, Associate Professor of Economics, Iowa State University | Paper

The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City's Commitment to Agriculture and Rural Research

With the heavy concentration of agriculture across the Great Plains, research on agricultural enterprises and rural economic issues has been a long-standing area of expertise for our Bank. Economists publish a wide variety of research and analysis on agricultural and rural issues.

  • The Main Street Economist
    This publication provides analysis on economic opportunities and challenges facing agricultural sectors and rural areas in the Tenth District and throughout the nation.
  • Survey of Agricultural Credit Conditions 
    The Bank’s quarterly survey of agricultural bankers provides current indicators of the financial performance of Tenth District agriculture. The accumulated results also help trace longer term trends. Survey results summarize several indicators of farm financial conditions, including farmland values, interest rates on farm loans, credit supply and demand, and farm income.
  • Agricultural Finance Databook 
    The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City oversees this quarterly compilation of national and regional agricultural finance data. Each release includes national data on term lending to farmers, quarterly Call Report data on national agricultural lending and agricultural bank failures, and data on agricultural land values and credit conditions from quarterly Federal Reserve Bank surveys. A publication summarizing the data is also produced. 
  • Economic Review 
    The Economic Review is a quarterly research publication with articles by Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City staff on issues of relevance to the Federal Reserve. Areas of focus include macroeconomics and monetary policy, agricultural and rural economic issues, regional and international economics, banking, financial markets and payments systems.
  • TEN Magazine
    This quarterly magazine for business and banking leaders highlights the Bank’s research, events and programs, and frequently focuses on agricultural and rural issues.

The District's agricultural and rural research is based out of its branch office in Omaha, Nebraska. Economists are available to speak on a variety of issues affecting farms and rural areas with organizations and the news media.

For speaking inquiries, please e-mail erin.redemske@kc.frb.org. To receive notification of new research and publications on agricultural and rural issues, sign up for email updates.